We partner with rural communities to provide health services, public libraries, and sustainable employment opportunities.

Yoga in Action

The Himalayan Institute’s humanitarian mission is yoga in action—offering spiritually grounded healing and transformation to the world. Our humanitarian projects serve impoverished communities through rural empowerment and environmental regeneration. By putting yoga philosophy into practice, our programs are empowering communities globally with the knowledge and tools needed for a lasting social transformation at the grassroots level.

Organizational Legacy: A History of Service

Early Humanitarian Projects

Since our founding in 1971, the Himalayan Institute has undertaken numerous humanitarian projects around the world. Much of its early work focused on supporting schools, libraries, and hospitals in India and Nepal. Hallmarks in the Institute’s humanitarian service include:

  • Founding the Hansda Ashram in Nepal (1982)
  • The Himalayan Institute Hospital Trust, Medical College, Nursing School, and Rural Development Institute in Dehra Dun, India (1987)
  • India Earthquake Relief (1991-1992)
  • The Himalayan Institute Indian Chapter in Allahabad, India (1997)

Other charitable services include scholarships for educational programs at the Institute’s headquarters.

Community Center Model

Since 2007, the Sacred Link initiatives for economic and educational development, energy farming, and rural empowerment have continued to unfold, developing into the Himalayan Institute Community Center model. The Community Center is now the main vehicle for the Institute’s humanitarian efforts abroad.

Our most active Community Center today is Himalayan Institute Cameroon, which serves over 50,000 members of the local community in Kumbo, Cameroon.

Sacred Link—The Healing Revolution

Since 2001, our humanitarian activities have expanded with the launch of Sacred Link—The Healing Revolution, uniting the Institute’s core mission of personal development and our vision for social and environmental renewal. With the dual purposes of “Healing the Heart” and “Healing the Planet,” the Sacred Link initiatives included:

  • Support for community programs in India that promote literacy and prison reform*
  • Support for schools in underprivileged communities in India to fight illiteracy
  • Preservation of indigenous culture by sponsoring the translation of Sanskrit scriptures and support for traditional arts and crafts
  • Biofuel development in southern India in conjunction with Roshini Biotech for reforestation, soil conservation, and rural economic development
  • BioVedic farming at the Himalayan Institute headquarters to reintroduce the Vedic method of organic farming, ayurvedic pharmacology and processing of herbs, and medicinal and spiritual applications of herbs

*For books on this subject, please see It’s Always Possible and Shadows in Cages.

Core Values

Respectful Partnership

Every community has unique priorities, challenges, assets, and opportunities. We are guided by the experience and wisdom of grassroots leaders. Our projects are models of participatory and collaborative development. In each community we employ local talent and leadership to design, implement, and evaluate innovative projects that tackle chronic problems.


Grassroots leadership development is central to our work, so that local community members gain skills and confidence to become effective agents of change.

Economic Sustainability

Our projects strive to create livelihood that offers stability and dignity to people and their families. This drives sustainable change and generational impact in the communities where we work.

Lasting Transformation

Our global humanitarian mission is the transformation of rural communities. Working with strong local partners, our multifaceted programs address root problems with integrated sustainable solutions in key areas of education, health care, and economic upliftment.

Meet the Team

Jeff Abella
Jeff AbellaDirector, Global Humanitarian Projects
Jeff has been working on international development initiatives since 2007. For nearly a decade he has led efforts to establish new community initiatives in Africa and India, and is one of the founding directors of Himalayan Institute Mexico. Jeff is currently the director of Global Humanitarian Projects for the Himalayan Institute, and the managing director of Himalayan Institute Cameroon. Jeff also sits on the board of directors for the Sacred Link Foundation, founded JobLink Cameroon, and is involved in other social ventures in West Africa.
Steve Odnoha
Steve OdnohaTechnical Director
Steven has been involved with the Himalayan Institute’s Global Humanitarian Projects team since 2010. He is involved with all things technical, from teaching electrical training courses to lab setup and solar power installations. As the technical director, he also manages and maintains all equipment involved with the humanitarian work. Steven received his professional education from Central Texas College and the U.S. Army. He also worked for the semiconductor giant Intel for over 10 years as a maintenance technician, where he learned to apply attention to detail in all facets of his work.
Laura Bernas
Laura BernasDevelopment & Communications
The latest member of the Humanitarian team—Laura, comes to the Himalayan Institute with experience ranging from theater performance to international educational development. Inspired by her experiences working in Russia and Tanzania, Laura hopes to guide Himalayan Institute Cameroon’s future developmental expansion and community impact. Her roles include expanding fundraising and development initiatives, blog writing, and social media management. Laura holds degrees in Performing Arts and Psychology from Sarah Lawrence College.
Alat Tigunait, MPH
Alat Tigunait, MPHTotal Health Project Manager
Alat has been actively involved with the Himalayan Institute’s Global Humanitarian Projects team since 2012. She is currently the health project manager, and has led the development and implementation of the Total Health Revolution, a widespread public health education campaign and health consultant training program in Cameroon. Alat studied biobehavioral health and health policy and administration at Penn State University and received a master’s degree in public health (MPH) with a focus on international health from the Boston University School of Public Health.
Chemson Joseph
Chemson JosephPresident, Himalayan Institute Cameroon
Chemson has been involved with the Himalayan Institute in Kumbo, Cameroon, since 2007, as our on-site president. His extensive background in administration and management with many local education and service organizations made Chemson a perfect fit for Himalayan Institute Cameroon, and he has been an integral part of the success of our organization. Chemson studied youth instruction and administration at the National Institute of Youth and Sports, and wrote his dissertation on the cooperative union and the integration of youth.
Clara Ezia
Clara EziaAdministrative Manager, Himalayan Institute Cameroon
Clara has been working with the Himalayan Institute in Kumbo, Cameroon, since 2010 as our on-site account manager. Her connection to her family’s farming community drew her attention to charitable work and led her to Himalayan Institute Cameroon. In addition to her role as account manager, Clara also serves as a cashier and administrative manager at the Himalayan Institute’s headquarters in Kumbo. Clara worked in Africa’s corporate environment for the first half of her professional career and also went on to earn a LaunchPad Executive Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Business Management from the African Entrepreneurship Academy in Ghana.
Ernest Mendah
Ernest MendahOperations Manager, Himalayan Institute Cameroon
Ernest has been involved with the Himalayan Institute in Kumbo, Cameroon, since 2014 as our on-site operations manager. He has an extensive background in administration and management, and worked for a widely known health institution as a hospital assistant. His joy for what he does and his overall optimism, even in the most challenging situations, creates the productive environment needed to break through the difficulties. In addition to his educational background in computer work and office administration, Ernest went on to obtain a postgraduate diploma in hospital administration from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Emma Anderson
Emma AndersonFundraising & Development Intern
Emma, a recent addition to the Global Humanitarian Projects team, began her work with the Himalayan Institute in May 2016 as a summer intern. She is currently providing support to the Humanitarian Project Team in the areas of grant research, social media, and development of a mobile CommCare app that can be utilized at our center in Cameroon to digitize and improve public health records. Emma has just completed her second year of college and is studying international affairs and development at George Washington University in Washington, DC.